You might have heard a lot about “You are what you eat”. Well, it seems true. Diet indeed influences someone’s health whether it will improve the condition or worsen it. For example when it comes to autoimmune diseases. Eating for the autoimmune disease should be well-planned to prevent the symptoms from appearing.
What Are Autoimmune Diseases?
We all have an immune system that protects the body from bacteria and viruses. Magically, this can sense the foreign invaders so the immune system will send fighters to them.
A healthy immune system can sense which one is the foreign cells and which one is not. This is what makes us stay healthy the whole time.
If a person is suffering from an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells such as joints or skin. It senses that the body cells are foreign and need to be destroyed so it releases proteins that are called autoantibodies.
Certain autoimmune disease attacks one organ such as type 1 diabetes which attacks the pancreas. Other diseases like lupus will affect the whole body.
What Makes The Immune System Attack The Whole Body?
The reason is still unclear why the immune system mistakenly detects the wrong cells. According to Healthline, some types of autoimmune diseases are more commonly found in certain ethnic groups such as lupus which affects more Hispanic and African American than white people. It is said also that when certain autoimmune diseases run in the family, the family member might be susceptible to having an autoimmune condition. However, it is not necessarily a family member will inherit the same disease.
An expert from Londons Francis Crick Institute, Carola Vinuesa told The Guardian. She pointed out that the Western-style diet and fast food are the culprits. She mentioned that fast-food diets lack essential elements such as fiber. Besides, it also affects the microbiome which is very important in controlling the system in the body. Hence, the change in the microbiome triggers autoimmune diseases.
What Is A Good Diet For Autoimmune Diseases?
There is a term called AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet which underlines what food to eat and avoid. We have summarized the list from Healthline.
AIP diet is often considered the extension of the paleo diet, but it is the stricter version. It consists of two phases, which are as follows!
The Elimination Phase
The elimination phase is about removing the medications and foods that cause gut inflammation. The inflammation is caused by the imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut.
Therefore, during this phase, it is important to avoid foods like seeds, legumes, nuts, eggs, nightshade vegetables, and dairy. Another to avoid are food additives, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, oils, and refined and processed sugars. You also need to avoid certain food such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
You are encouraged to eat fermented foods, bone broth, nutrient-dense, and fresh foods. Besides, minimize consuming processed meat. You are also suggested to improve other lifestyle factors such as physical activity, stress, and sleep.
The Reintroduction Phase
You will enter this phase when the symptoms are improved. During this phase, the foods that are avoided are slowly introduced based on the tolerance of each individual.
The purpose of this phase is to know which food makes the symptoms appear and to reintroduce all foods that don’t cause the symptoms.
In this case, well-tolerated foods can be added to the diet list while the ones that cause symptoms to appear will be avoided. However, this might change over time.
What Are The Steps Of Foods Reintroduction?
Here are the steps to follow when reintroducing foods into the AIP diet.
- Pick one type of food to be reintroduced. You can eat the food a few times a day during testing day. After that, stop eating it in 5-6 days.
- Make sure to eat in a small amount. You can eat 1 teaspoon of food. After that, you can wait for 15 minutes to know how your body reacts.
- As you experience the symptoms, stop the food testing, but if your body doesn’t give a reaction, eat larger portions for example 1 1/2 tablespoons of the same food. Keep monitoring the body’s reaction within 2-3 hours.
- When the symptoms appear during this period, you must end the test and avoid the type of food you have eaten. If you don’t have symptoms occur, then try to eat a normal portion (the same food). After that, stop and avoid this food for 5-6 days.
- During 5-6 days, if you don’t have any symptoms, you can add the tested food to your diet. Next, you can repeat the reintroduction phase with different food.
Note that it is important to not reintroduce the foods when you are not in a good condition because it will be difficult to interpret the result. For example when you have a poor night’s sleep or stressful.
What Are The Foods To Avoid During the Elimination Phase?
In the AIP diet, some foods are suggested to be avoided such as:
- Grains (wheat, oats, rice, barley, rye, and so on. This also includes foods that are derived from them like bread, cereals, and pasta).
- Nightshade vegetables (This includes peppers, potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, paprika, and so on).
- Eggs (any food that contains these ingredients)
- Dairy (this includes sheep’s, goat’s, cow’s, and any food that is derived from milk. For example ghee, cheese, butter, and cream).
- Nuts and seeds (avoid any foods that come from nuts and seeds such as butter, oil, and flour. This also includes cocoa and herby seeds like cumin, coriander, fennel, anise, mustard, fenugreek, and nutmeg).
- Certain beverages like coffee and alcohol.
- Processed vegetable oils like cottonseed, corn, canola, rapeseed, safflower, palm kernel, sunflower, and soybean oils.
- Refined and processed sugars like corn syrup, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, or barley malt syrup. Others include candy, frozen desserts, sweets, and chocolate which contain these elements.
- Food additives and also artificial sweeteners (this include emulsifiers, trans fat, food colorings, and also thickeners). Artificial sweeteners include mannitol, xylitol, and stevia.
Foods For Autoimmune Disease To Eat
- Fresh vegetables but avoid nightshade vegetables and also algae.
- Fresh fruits but consume them in moderation.
- Tubers (this includes yams, taro, and potatoes).
- Minimally processed meat like fresh fish, seafood, poultry, organ meat, etc. The meats should be the ones raised naturally.
- Fermented and probiotic-rich foods. This includes kombucha, pickles, kimchi, coconut kefir, probiotic supplements, etc.
- Minimally processed oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.
- Herbs and spices that are not from seeds.
- Vinegar such as wine vinegar, apple cider, and balsamic vinegar.
- Natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup, but consume them in moderation.
- Certain teas like green and black tea. Consume around 3-4 cups a day.
- Bone broth. This includes any bone broth like a cow for example.
What Is Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
Besides the AIP diet, the anti-inflammatory diet is often suggested for people with autoimmune diseases. It is considered similar to the Mediterranean diet. A study that is published in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, in November 2018 stated that the Mediterranean diet could extend the lifespan and lower chronic diseases.
The anti-inflammatory diet includes certain foods like olive oil, fish, fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and seeds. The foods must be natural, for example eating fish that is caught from the ocean or eating homemade meals because you know well the ingredients.
According to Dr. Li’s statement in Health, it is recommended to limit dairy products because some people might react to lactose, protein in dairy, or sugar in dairy products.
Does A Plant-Based Diet Work Well For Autoimmune?
In a study about rheumatoid arthritis that is published in Frontiers in Nutrition in 2019, and also a 2022 study about lupus that is published in the journal Lupus, the AIP and also anti-inflammatory diets emphasize fruits and vegetables. If you have an autoimmune disease, you can consume more vegetables.
How To Boost The Immune System When Having Autoimmune Disease?
Improving your immune system can be started by improving your gut’s health. This can start with eating vegetables, fruits, prebiotics, and probiotics to enhance the microbiome. In this way, you can improve your immune system.
What Are The Perfect Drinks For Autoimmune Diseases?
When it comes to autoimmune diseases, there is no perfect drink. However, some green juices or fermented drinks like hard kombuchas without added sugar will support your gut’s health.
Is Honey Good For Autoimmune?
According to WebMD, honey is rich in antioxidants. It can protect your body from inflammation which leads to various issues like cancer, heart disease, or autoimmune disease.
What Is The Strongest Natural Anti-Inflammatory?
One of the strongest anti-inflammatories is omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in fatty fish like tuna and salmon. It is considered as the most potent anti-inflammatory element.
Is Greek Yogurt Good For Inflammation?
Yogurt is believed to decrease inflammation. It helps decrease insulin resistance as well as preventing type 2 diabetes. Researchers believe the anti-inflammatory agent comes from probiotics.
When Is The Best Time To Drink Yogurt?
It is recommended to drink yogurt in the morning while your stomach is empty. It will help the probiotics reach the large intestine when it is eaten when you are on an empty stomach.